International Air Transport Association
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|Formation||19 April 1945Havana, Cubain|
|Type||International trade association|
|Headquarters||800, Place Victoria (rue Gauvin), Montreal, Canada|
|approx. 260 airlines (2016)|
DG and CEO
The International Air Transport Association (IATA //) is a trade association of the world’s airlines. Consisting of around 260 airlines, primarily major carriers, representing 117 countries, the IATA's member airlines account for carrying approximately 83% of total Available Seat Kilometers air traffic. IATA supports airline activity and helps formulate industry policy and standards. It is headquartered in Montreal, Canada with Executive Offices in Geneva, Switzerland.
IATA was formed in April 1945 in Havana, Cuba. It is the successor to the International Air Traffic Association, which was formed in 1919 at The Hague, Netherlands. At its founding, IATA consisted of 57 airlines from 31 countries. Much of IATA’s early work was technical and it provided input to the newly created International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which was reflected in the annexes of the Chicago Convention, the international treaty that still governs the conduct of international air transport today.
The Chicago Convention couldn’t resolve the issue of who flies where, however, and this has resulted in the thousands of bilateral air transport agreements in existence today. The benchmark standard for the early bilaterals was the 1946 United States-United Kingdom Bermuda Agreement.
IATA was also charged by the governments with setting a coherent fare structure that avoided cut-throat competition but also looked after the interests of the consumer. The first Traffic Conference was held in 1947 in Rio de Janeiro and reached unanimous agreement on some 400 resolutions.
Aviation grew rapidly over the following decades and IATA’s work duly expanded. It transformed its trade association activities to take account of the new dynamics in aviation, which was seeing increasing demand from the leisure sector. Price flexibility became increasingly important and the United States led the way into deregulation in 1978.
IATA has cemented its position as the voice of the aviation industry in recent years, launching a number of important programs and lobbying governments in the wake of successive crises. Despite its factual influence, the IATA is a trade group with no legislative powers.
Safety is the number one priority for IATA. The main instrument for safety is the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) and its successor, Enhanced IOSA. IOSA has also been mandated at the state level by several countries. In 2012, aviation posted its safest year ever. The global Western-built jet accident rate (measured in hull losses per million flights of Western-built jets) was 0.20, the equivalent of one accident every 5 million flights. Future improvements will be founded on data sharing with a database fed by a multitude of sources and housed by the Global Safety Information Center. In June 2014 the IATA set up a special panel to study measures to track aircraft in flight in real time. The move was in response to the disappearance without trace of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on 8 March 2014.
Security has become increasingly important following the September 11 attacks in 2001. Following a series of uncoordinated rules by different countries, the industry has developed a Checkpoint of the Future, which is based on risk assessment and passenger differentiation.
Simplifying the Business
Simplifying the Business was launched in 2004. This initiative has introduced a number of crucial concepts to passenger travel, including the electronic ticket and the bar coded boarding pass. Many other innovations are being established as part of the Fast Travel initiative, including a range of self-service baggage options.
A new program that has drawn plenty of interest is New Distribution Capability. This will replace the old EDIFACT messaging standard that is still the basis of the global distribution system /travel agent channel and replace it with an XML standard. This will enable the same choices to be offered to high street travel shoppers as are offered to those who book directly through airline websites. A filing with the US Department of Transportation brought over 400 comments.
IATA members and all industry stakeholders have agreed to three sequential environmental goals:
- An average improvement in fuel efficiency of 1.5% per annum from 2009 through 2020
- A cap on net carbon emissions from aviation from 2020 (carbon-neutral growth)
- A 50% reduction in net aviation carbon emissions by 2050 relative to 2005 levels.
The resolution provides governments with a set of principles on how governments could:
- Establish procedures for a single market-based measure (MBM)
- Integrate a single MBM as part of an overall package of measures to achieve CNG2020
IATA member airlines agreed that a single mandatory carbon offsetting scheme would be the simplest and most effective option for an MBM.
IATA provides consulting and training services in many areas crucial to aviation.
Travel Agent accreditation is available for travel professionals. Full accreditation allows agents to sell tickets on behalf of all IATA member airlines.
Cargo Agent accreditation is a similar program.
IATA also runs the Billing and Settlement Plan, which is a $300 billion-plus financial system that looks after airline money.
And it provides a number of business intelligence publications and services.
Training covers all aspects of aviation and ranges from beginner courses through to senior management courses.
IATA manages the Ticket Tax Box Service (TTBS), a database of taxes for airlines.
IATA's Strategic Partners are aviation solution providers who, through their work with various IATA work groups, help build and maintain relationships with key industry stakeholders and work with IATA in serving the air transport industry. 
Publications - standards
A number of standards are defined under the umbrella of IATA. One of the most important is the transport of dangerous goods (HAZMAT).
- Air Transport Action Group (ATAG)
- Flight planning
- IATA airport code
- IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA)
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading
- Kenneth Beaumont
- Standard Schedules Information Manual
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